From the Office of the Delta Watermaster:
As Delta water users are aware, July 1, 2021 was the deadline for filing Supplemental Statements of Water Diversion and Use for calendar year 2020. Out of nearly 3,000 diverters in the Delta, all but a small number have filed the legally required reports. The Office of the Delta Watermaster thanks the Delta’s water users for their outstanding record of compliance with the annual reporting requirement. By next year, we hope to see the filing process streamlined, simplified, and automated through the implementation of the Delta Alternative Compliance Plan. We will provide more information on the Delta ACP in a future email.
Yesterday, (July 28, 2021), our Office ran a report from the Water Board’s electronic records system to identify water diverters in the Delta who appear to be delinquent in filing the annual reports. I have attached a summary list of those whose reports have not been received. If you are on the list—or if you know someone who is—take this as a final reminder to either file the report or contact our Office to arrange an extension.
Although the reports were due by July 1, our Office has not yet instituted enforcement action for failure to file. However, the credibility of the annual reporting obligation and the value of the information diverters provide require that we take enforcement action against the handful of diverters who ignore this legal obligation that goes along with the privilege of diverting water to private use.
Enforcement actions are inherently complicated and time consuming, designed to afford due process prior to imposing fines or taking other corrective actions. In the past two years, however, our Office has completed that process and imposed penalties for failure to file, including a $25,000 fine against one diverter who failed to file two reports (collected through a judgment lien on his property) and the complete revocation of another diverter’s license.
On Monday, August 9, our Office will begin the enforcement process against Delta water users who have failed to file their Supplemental Statements of Diversion and Use for calendar year 2020. Pursuant to the California Water Code, fines can accrue at the rate of $500 per day from the due date until the report is filed. Therefore, diverters who remain delinquent on August 9 could face fines of more than $15,000 for each Statement. Once that process is commenced, it proceeds inexorably to conclusion.
To avoid enforcement, water users should file their Supplemental Statements before our Office commences the enforcement process. If a water user faces extenuating circumstances, they should contact our Office to request an extension of the filing deadline and to demonstrate appropriate diligence in filing the late report. Similarly, if a diverter needs assistance in completing their reports (such as finding usernames and passwords to access the Water Board’s electronic reporting system), they should contact our Office for help. Our Office would much rather help diverters to come into compliance than pursue enforcement.
To file an annual report of diversion and use, gather your information and then access the online electronic Water Rights Information Management System at: http://rms.waterboards.ca.gov.
For more information about annual water use reporting, access the Division of Water Rights webpage at: https://www.waterboards.ca.gov/waterrights/water_issues/programs/water_diversion_reporting/.
If you have questions about reporting on water use within the Delta, please contact your water attorney, your local Delta Water Agency or me, Kristi Matal, Office of the Delta Watermaster, at:
Communication and Outreach Specialist
Office of the Delta Watermaster
Phone at: (916) 319-8264